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Health: More to hypnosis than the stereotype

Lance Pohling


For many, the word conjures images of swinging pendulums and incantations of “You are getting sleepy, ver-r-r-y sleepy.”

But Lance Pohling, owner of the newly opened Butterfly Hypnosis on West 2nd Street in Riverhead, said such stereotypes aren’t at all representative of an actual hypnosis session.

“In fact, it’s the opposite,” he said. “You’re actually very alert and quite focused and aware of your environment.”

Mr. Pohling, a California native who now lives in Riverhead, opened Butterfly Hypnosis in April. A certified hypnotist, the 53-year-old has been curious for most of his life about the practice, which generally uses the power of suggestion to help patients lose weight or stop smoking.

“As a young kid, I always used to read books about the subconscious and how your mind can do things,” said Mr. Pohling, who underwent hypnosis himself 20 years ago. “I guess it was a natural evolution of that. I like helping people.”

According to the American Psychological Association’s website, hypnosis, while controversial, is generally agreed by clinicians to be a potentially “powerful, effective therapeutic technique for a wide range of conditions, including pain, anxiety and mood disorders.”

Hypnosis can reportedly even be used to help alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, the organization said. A study of 204 IBS sufferers reported in a 2003 issue of the medical journal Gut found that 58 percent of men and 75 percent of women reported “significant symptom relief” immediately after finishing 12 weeks of hypnosis.

“You have people imagine that their intestines are working better, like a fluid, flowing river,” Mr. Pohling explained.

Sessions at Butterfly Hypnosis, which generally last less than an hour, often focus on addressing habits like smoking or overeating. A patient’s success rate is largely indicated by their desire to overcome whatever is in their power to alter, such as nicotine addiction.

“The more motivated a person is to change, the fewer sessions it’s going to take,” Mr. Pohling said.

In the short time it’s been open, Mr. Pohling said, Butterfly Hypnosis has received positive reception. In fact, he has already opened a second location in Sag Harbor.

“There’s a few of us [hypnotists] out here, but not many,” he said. “I think there’s a definite need.”

Mr. Pohling encourages skeptics to keep an open mind.

“If the mind is open, quite a few things are often possible,” he said.

To learn more about Butterfly Hypnosis, visit butterflyhypnosis.com.

Have a health column idea for Rachel Young? Email her at [email protected].

Photo: Certified hypnotist Lance Pohling in his new office in Riverhead. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)